Senator Mitch McConnell laughs at Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s bill
Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate minority leader, literally laughed at the plan proposed by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (and by extension the president’s plan). The proposed plan would raise tax revenues by $1.6 trillion over the next ten years. The plan requested $50 billion in new stimulus spending. It also offered $400 billion in unspecified Medicare cuts. The most startling request was to effectively end Congress’s ability to vote on the debt limit.
Raising the tax rates on the wealthiest 2% of taxpayers (under President Obama’s suggested plan) would raise $85 billion every year. I’ve always argued that this plan alone would not even make a substantial dent in our total debt. We’ve incurred at least a trillion dollars in added deficit to the overall deficit in the last four years. I am not really sure how the president hopes to gain the $1.6 trillion in added tax revenues under the proposed plan that would only add $850 billion over ten years. Where will the difference come from? Will the middle class tax rates go up as well? Does he plan on capping deductions for them as well?
We have a spending problem as well as stubbornness when it comes to not raising tax rates on the top taxpayers. I am not really sure why we need another stimulus bill. The best stimulus is a revived economy and we aren’t going to get one if we don’t deal with our debt. The $400 billion in unspecified Medicare cuts is towards the right direction in that we have to deal with entitlement reform. My problem with this plan is that we once again hear the same rhetoric. Sure we will make cuts. We don’t know where they will come from and we will deal with them at a later time. Well you know what the ‘later time’ has come. You can only “kick the can” down the road so many times.
The detail I was most startled by was the request to raise our debt limit without Congressional oversight. How exactly does that show one faith that you are seriously concerned with the debt problem? Checks and balances were created for a reason. They are a legal means to ensure that one side of government doesn’t maintain most, if not all, the legal authority. There has to be some sort of accountability and negotiation.
President Obama is urging Congress to extend tax breaks for the middle class, saying it is “unacceptable for some Republicans in Congress to hold middle class tax cuts hostage simply because they refuse to let tax rates go up on the wealthiest Americans.” The president made this comment as he continues his campaigning around the country. I guess he didn’t get the notice that he won the election and can now go do his job. When President Obama won I emphatically stated that I would put my personal feelings on how he governed the last four years and wish him nothing but my support. His success after all is tied to our success. I am disappointed that instead of meeting with Congress everyday to work out a deal he is campaigning spreading the rhetoric that Republicans aren’t cooperating. It seems like he is already preparing for negotiations to reach a permanent impasse. If a deal isn’t passed, which seems more likely as the days go by, then Democrats will tell the American people the GOP is at fault.
As I recently argued, politicians don’t understand the word ‘compromise.’ They think it means the other side must agree with their plan otherwise they are being uncooperative. Our politicians don’t really care if a deal is passed. They’ve already planned their winter vacation. As someone told me earlier this week, why should they care about America’s entitlement problems? After all they consider their vacations as their entitlement. They get the best healthcare in the country. Work part-time, yet magically get full-time benefits. What a “stressful” life they lead.
Republicans need to budge on raising the tax rates on the “wealthy.” But, they must also make it clear to the American people that that alone will not be sufficient enough to deal with our deficit. Democrats need to offer specific plans on cuts and offer them now, not sometime in the near future. The best solution is a combination of everyone’s plan. Unfortunately, big egos block any real progress.
I heard of this interesting analysis of why it maybe in the best interest (at least politically and selfishly) for Democrats and Republicans to allow the country to go off the “fiscal cliff.” Democrats will get tax rates to go up on all Americans (something they had in effect before President Bush’s tax cut plans). It would ensure they didn’t get backlash from their base. Republicans will get the spending cuts they want in the form of sequestration. And both sides of course will blame the other. Meanwhile, the American people will have to burden the dysfunction of our politicians.
What do you think?
Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate